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Cherry Wood in Fine Woodworking: A History of Craftsmanship

Timber Knowledge
18 July 2023 min read

Cherry Wood in Fine Woodworking: A History of Craftsmanship

With its rich history and versatile nature, cherry wood has long been a favourite amongst woodworkers. And in modern architecture, cherry is experiencing a renaissance. 

So, while the wood may have a history, it's definitely not in the past.

Whether it's the rustic charm of cherry wood beams or the sleek sophistication of cherry fixtures, this versatile wood imparts a unique character to modern structures.

For those seeking to delve into the fascinating past of cherry wood, you've come to the right place. If, on the other hand, you're exploring the market for a top-tier hardwood for an upcoming woodworking endeavour...

Look no further than the time-tested, versatile classic—cherry wood. 


Cherry Wood: A Rich History

The Early Use of Cherry

Historically, cherry trees were cultivated for their delicious fruit and durable wood, ideal for crafting vine stakes and cask hoops. Notably, cherry wood exhibits excellent burning properties, releasing an appealing scented smoke.

In the Georgian era, cherry wood, known scientifically as Prunus avium, gained popularity for its smooth texture, fine grain, and appealing heartwood colour. These European native trees provided accessible resources for local artisans, marking a significant period in British furniture design. From its strength, easy carving, and finishing attributes, cherry wood offered the perfect canvas for these skilled artists to showcase their skills and artistry. 

Impressively, the designs they carved into cherry wood have endured the test of time, remaining as beautiful and intricate as when first created.


Cherry Wood in the Victorian Age

As society progressed into the Victorian era, cherry became a staple in furniture making. The prosperity of this period created a surge in demand for quality furniture, and cherry wood's warm hues were sought after. 

In this era, intricate carving and detailing work flourished, accentuating the wood's versatility and resilience. 

Furthermore, Victorian woodworkers treasured the wood's ageing process. Over time, cherry wood deepens in colour, a process called 'patination,' adding a unique depth and richness to the wood.


Cherry Wood: The Modern-Day Marvel

Cherry Wood in Today's Woodworking

Fast forward to today, cherry wood's popularity has stood the test of time. It continues to be appreciated for its strength, elegance, and workability. This is because its versatile nature extends well to cabinets, fine furniture, veneers, and flooring. 

Beyond that, cherry wood is also preferred for musical instrument makers, such as for high-quality acoustic guitars and pianos. 

Further, sustainability is another reason cherry appeals to today's woodworkers. The relatively quick maturation of cherry trees makes them a more sustainable option than slower-growing hardwoods. In a world of climate change, this factor makes cherry wood an increasingly attractive choice.


Cherry Wood and Its Applications

Cherry wood's historical importance extends to various woodworking domains. 

From furniture to musical instruments, it imparts elegance and sophistication that few other kinds of wood can. Contemporary designers relish cherry wood’s adaptability to different styles, whether for furniture, stringed instruments like guitars and violins, or durable and aesthetically appealing kitchen utensils.


Cherry Wood: A Beacon in Boat Building History

Another less-talked-about chapter in cherry wood's storied history involves boat building. The strength and water resistance of cherry made it a key material in early boat construction. This is because its lightweight yet robust nature allowed the creation of sturdy, buoyant boats. And the wood's ability to withstand the wear and tear of water exposure over time contributed to its popularity. 

Although technological advancements have introduced newer materials in boat building, cherry wood symbolises traditional craftsmanship.


Cherry Wood: In Tune with Musical History

Beyond its role in crafting musical instruments like guitars and pianos, cherry has also been pivotal in making wind instruments. The excellent acoustic properties, combined with the wood's innate strength, make cherry wood ideal for crafting flutes, recorders, and pipes for organs. 

Cherry wood’s rich history in fine woodworking is a testament to its versatility and durability and reflects how this remarkable wood continues to inspire, charm, and adapt. From woodturning to boat building, sculpture to architecture, and beyond—cherry wood truly encapsulates the spirit of fine woodworking. 


Caring for Your Cherry Wood 

Preserving the charm of cherry requires some care. Regular dusting, shielding from direct sunlight, and using the right cleaning agents can help maintain your creations' beauty.

With appropriate care, your cherry wood pieces will continue to enrich with time, the deepening colour and exquisite patina adding to their value.


Sustainability and Cherry Wood

Historically, irresponsible logging practices posed a threat to the wood's sustainability. However, stringent modern forestry management practices and inherent regeneration abilities have dramatically improved the cherry trees’ long-term sustainability.

These improvements have also projected a positive future for cherry trees' ecological footprint. And sustainable harvesting techniques are expected to further promote cherry tree populations' robustness.

While cherry trees grow relatively quickly and possess inherent resilience, the sustainability of cherry wood can still be influenced by other factors.

For example, the sustainability of a wood species is not determined by growth rate and resilience alone. Resource management, including harvesting practices, replanting efforts, and local forestry regulations, plays a significant role in sustainability. Therefore, while cherry wood can potentially be a more sustainable choice due to its growth characteristics, it's also crucial to consider how the resource is managed.

Remember that sustainability can also depend on local factors. For example, sourcing cherry wood from a supplier, like Woodshop Direct, that uses sustainable practices could be more sustainable than importing a different type of wood from a distant location. So the relative sustainability of cherry wood can vary depending on the context.


Quality American Cherry Wood at Woodshop Direct

Architects and interior designers often choose cherry wood for structural elements, fixtures, and accents to create inviting and sustainable spaces. Cherry’s natural warmth, elegance, and sustainability align perfectly with the focus on aesthetics and environmental responsibility. 

Woodshop Direct's commitment to providing fine wood extends to American cherry wood. Our rigorous selection process ensures you receive only the finest wood, allowing you to create lasting, beautiful pieces. Most importantly, we source our wood from sustainable sources, ensuring our cherry wood products reflect our commitment to responsible sourcing, marking our contribution to a future of sustainable woodworking.